Tuesday was cause for celebration after the province announced it was loosening its public health restrictions as it moved forward with its 4-3-2 One Great Summer reopening plan.
"Today’s a good day," Brandon Chamber of Commerce president Barry Cooper said after Tuesday’s announcement.
"Obviously we’re pretty happy to see the recognition that businesses can operate safely without so many restrictions," he said.
"I think that’s one of the things that’s been underrated during this whole pandemic that businesses make consistently to protect their staff and their customers."
Businesses, as a whole, have carried far too much of the burden throughout the entire pandemic, based on the amount of risk versus the amount of penalties paid by being closed as much as they have, he noted.
Generally, the texts Cooper was receiving from members after the announcement on Tuesday was that they were excited to move forward.
"They don’t want government subsidies. They don’t want government support. They just want to run their businesses the way they know how," he said. "Through no fault of their own, they haven’t been allowed to.
"Today is a good day."
Cooper wanted to acknowledge the small businesses who have adapted to the times and the ones that were lost along the way.
That’s why he reinforced the need for double vaccinations.
"We can’t go backwards. We really can’t. That’s the thing that will get us out of this the fastest and keep us safe."
At The Dock on Princess, general manager Erin Wells was really excited about the relaxed public health restrictions. She’s looking forward to having the seating capacity in the popular restaurant back to full capacity.
"Tables don’t have to be spaced out anymore and we’re allowed full capacity," she said.
With just four days to get the restaurant in order, tables and chairs will have to come out of storage and get cleaned off. And then there’s the matter of staffing. The Dock, like many other restaurants in the province, needs staff as capacity jumps back to 100 per cent in less than a week.
"We’re going to sit down and come up with a plan," Wells pointed out. Part of that plan will include continuing to contact trace patrons, but they won’t have to check vaccine cards and ensure only vaccinated people come into the restaurant.
"We’re really excited to see everyone and to be back to feeling a bit more normal. We are doing our best to keep up with the new changes while hiring new staff."
Tuesday’s public health orders included relaxed restrictions for restaurants, licensed premises and food courts. In the new restrictions, the province said there will be no group limits for indoor and outdoor dining. As well, there are no capacity limits or separation requirements between tables. Immunization cards will not be required to access services. However, guests must remain seated as much as possible and patrons should maintain two-metre distance whenever they are away from their table.
Staff must ensure patrons do not congregate inside or outside restaurants or licensed premises, and there is to be no socializing between tables, the new orders said. Also, operating hours will no longer be restricted. However, dance floors remain closed and sound levels must remain limited below 80-decibel levels.